RSF reports the media blackout began with a physical block -- road checkpoints and a security perimeter -- then moved online, to news websites and message boards. Some international news reports state that 20 villagers died during the December 6 demonstration. Snip from RSF statement:
Chinese discussion forums were ordered to censor all messages posted about the events. When Reporters Without Borders tried posting the message (in Chinese) "People died in Dongzhou" it was automatically rejected by the main forums, including Xinhua and Sohu.Link
Some Internet-users try to get round the censorship by posting messages in which they simply allude to repression against villagers in Dongzhou. One of the messages, seen by Reporters Without Borders, condemned Japanese massacres in Nanking in 1937, making implicit references to the current political context, saying that it was unacceptable to "fire on compatriots". In another forum, a message read, "We cannot mention the place, the date or who was responsible. But we know".
Reporters Without Borders also tried researching the word "Dongzhou" on the Chinese version of the search engine Yahoo!. This produced no results, although it came up with 150,000 results on the Chinese version of Google.
Reader comment: a Boing Boing reader in Shangxi province writes:
I am out here in China at the moment. We get CNN and BBC in our hotel rooms. But when there is anything to do with the shooting in the south of China it is blanked. Takes some time to come back on. And when I told my Chinese fellow workers about it they knew nothing about it.Reader comment: Jason says
I thought I'd point out that English-language accounts of the incident aren't blocked. I live in Shanghai, and I first found out about it through a link on the front page of Yahoo. I also just searched--and found--stories on it with Google news and Yahoo news, and read (well, scanned) the New York Times story about it.
Naturally I can't speak for the policies of the Chinese government, but from what I can tell their point of view for most things seems to be that if you can read English well enough, you're going to find out about it anyway. (I always laugh when I go to the state-run foreign languages bookstore and see things like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 for sale.)
But the reader who wrote about CNN and BBC being blocked was right--that happens all the time with any vaguely "sensitive" story. I believe the satellite feeds are all delayed.